Building a Female Audience of 42% Through Branding, Paid Media & a Campus Network Program

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January 19, 2022

Key Takeaways

Bumble cultivated a safe space for their female audience since launching in 2014. Here’s how:

Branding & Messaging

  • Website Homepage: All branding focuses on women making the first move.
  • Email Marketing: Female-focused campaigns and giveaways led to 21% average read rates.

Paid Media Advertising

  • Spend Allocation: Facebook has seen the highest spend allocation from 2016-2021 at $4.3M.
  • Demographic Target: Bumble spends an average of 65% of their budgets towards women.
  • Creative Testing: Simple ad creative led to the lowest CPM ($6.71) in women-focused messaging.

Campus Network Program

  • Advocate Program: Bumble created campus-wide advocate programs for students to promote the app.
  • Themed Branding: Hashtag #snowplacelikebumble led to 425 Instagram advocate posts in one month.
  • Specific Selection: Bumble used a specific application process to select the best fit for their ‘Honeys’.

Bumble is an online dating app founded by ex-Tinder co-founder Whitney Wolfe Herd in 2014. It sets itself apart from other dating apps by enabling women to make the first move in heterosexual matches. If the woman does not make the first move within 24 hours, the match disappears.

As of 2021, Bumble currently has +2% more female audience members visiting their website than their top competitor Tinder. 

Bumble has used the following methods to attract a female audience to use their app:

1. Brand & Messaging

Bumble has developed their brand slogans since launching in 2014 to support and empower women. Bumble’s focus on women is dominant in their website design and email marketing. After experiencing workplace harassment as a woman while developing Tinder, Bumble CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd wanted to create a safe space for women in the online dating world. As Bumble has grown since 2015, they have seen a variety of mantras such as "You're a Queen Bee", "Be the CEO Your Parents Always Wanted You to Marry" and "Make the First Move" targeted towards female-identifying audiences. 

Homepage Evolution 2015-2017

Establishing a Voice - When Bumble launched the website in 2015, their landing page directed viewers to download the app with the copy “changing the rules of the game”. This is a comment towards the unique feature of women messaging first however it doesn’t explicitly state this feature in the initial messaging. In 2017, an update was made to the landing page to support different Bumble browsing options (ie. Bumble BFF or Bumble for dating). The copy is updated to “Life’s short. Make the first move” yet the hero banner doesn’t elaborate on what that means specifically .

Homepage Evolution 2018-2021

Changing Priorities - In 2018, the Bumble landing page prioritized lead generation for potential users and stepped back from mentioning any content about women making the first move above the fold. From 2019-2021, the homepage above the fold has used the same copy “Make the first move. Start meeting new people in your area! If you already have an account, sign in to use Bumble on the web.” This copy is an ode to the 2017 landing page maintaining mystery about what making the first move entails for new users.

Below the fold, the Bumble website has demonstrated more explicit messaging over time to speak directly to how it is women who set the tone on the app. From 2019 to 2021, Bumble has used the same messaging while updating website imagery. 

When Bumble started ramping up their female-based messaging in 2018, 21% of their email campaigns featured calls to action to drive readers to the app.  

Email Messaging:

  • For the Women - Bumble uses terminology that would specifically attract the interests of women in their community. Typically, it is through an increased use of the words “women” and “female”.
  • Benefiting the Community - Bumble runs donations to causes that are aligned with their values in a way that makes it easy for the user to engage with the app. For example, by swiping, a user’s actions donate to the Women for Women foundation.
  • Open Calls to Participate - Bumble is often giving women on the platform the opportunity to apply for or find opportunities that they may not have found on their own by participating in app usage.

Interests & Connections

Bumble also uses tactics to appeal to women on the platform by partnering with brands that have predominantly-female audiences and by sharing content about safety around online dating.

  • Giveaways & Discounts - Bumble creates deals and offers for their users by partnering with online brands that have female focused communities. This helps strengthen brand loyalty and community.
  • Articles & Information - Bumble uses facts and surveys to demonstrate why the ability for women to make the first move is so crucial to the online dating experience. They use numbers from surveys to help make a case to other women’s positive experiences on the platform.

2. Paid Media Advertising

Bumble has experimented with different ad platforms since launching but has seen a consistent top spend in Facebook ads with an average of 65% of their ad spend targeting female audiences.

Facebook has seen the highest investment at $4.3M from 2016 to 2021 in the United States followed by Display ($2.7M) and Instagram ($1.6M). 

Spend is a directional approximation and does not include retargeting, or behavioural targeting. (USD Dollars)  *2016-2021

Since 2017, an average of 65% of Facebook marketing budgets have been allocated to targeting female audiences*. 2021 saw the highest spend on female audiences of $1.4M.

Spend is a directional approximation and does not include retargeting, or behavioural targeting. (USD Dollars)  *2017-2021

From 2019 to 2021, Bumble has been experimenting with their paid ad messaging towards women. The top ad spends on messaging related to women over the years have shifted from a paid ad collaboration with a skincare brand Erno Laszlo in 2019 to a static graphic sharing the benefit of the app for women in 2020 to an animated video in 2021 showing how making the first move can be a fun experience. 

2019 > Spend: $11.2K | Imp: 1.3M | CPM: $8.61

2020 > Spend: $137K | Imp: 20.4M | CPM: $6.71

2021 > Spend: $91K | Imp: 8.8M | CPM: $10.34

3. Campus Network Program

Bumble created the ‘Honey’ program for campuses to find young female advocates willing to plan Bumble events and share pictures on social media in Bumble merchandise. Since 2014, Bumble has had an elaborate ambassador program with two focuses. One called “Queen Bees” and the other called “Honeys”. Bumble’s Honey program focuses on finding ambassadors at college campuses to attract and acquire young women to the app. Bumble’s Queen Bee program focused on women outside of post-secondary institutions but sees less overall branding than the Honey program.

The Bumble Honey program has its own Instagram account with 15.9K followers with a 2.6% engagement rate. Bumble uses this platform as a way to celebrate their Honey ambassadors on campus and share positive messages to their audience of younger women.

Organic Social Tactic:

Themed Hashtags

Instead of using one generic hashtag for Bumble Honeys to include in their posts, Bumble created branded hashtags that include the brand name but relate it to the season or month. For the month of December 2021, Bumble launched the #snowplacelikebumble hashtag for Honeys to use throughout the month. A total of 425 posts were made using this hashtag, in every post the creator is seen wearing or holding a Bumble branded item.

Bumble has many “Honeys” that post in Bumble merch and promote the app on campus. Honeys often have small followings and high engagement. A few examples include:

In the Honey application process, Bumble outlines four roles that prospective Honeys can hold. These titles incentivise applicants to apply by offering them an experience to build skills in event management on campus and in marketing. Bumble aims to understand everything about the applicant and their school to build demographic and targeting strategies.

Honey Ambassador Positions

  • Campus Lead
  • Campus Lead
  • Campus Content Manager
  • Campus Marketing Manager

Notable Honey Application Questions

  1. What campus organizations are you with? Are you in a leadership position?
  2. Are you in Greek life?
  3. Link to Instagram profile, VSCO, Twitter, FB, TikTok
  4. School Selection as a: [a] Party School; [b] Work Hard Play Hard School; [c] Academic Focus School; [d] Major City School

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